Life is precious, especially those shared with joy and acceptance. As Cheryl sat on the deck to meditate, Poupon waited for her at the door – every day. A 10-year-old, robust, lifelong family member, he followed her everywhere. A constant presence. We know it will end but who is ever really prepared? Cheryl and Michael weren’t.
In my long career I have encountered nearly every disorder known to veterinary medicine. Like all of my colleagues I’ve accomplished a few saves. I’ve also learned some humbling lessons along the way. We are all temporary.
I sent Cheryl a sedative gel to apply to Poupon’s gums prior to the arrival of the house call veterinarian. The family conducted a personal ritual and held their cat close to say their goodbyes. It was a peaceful passing.
Cheryl recalled her feelings from the hard time that she and Michael endured 2 years ago. “We’re devastated – it’s our first adult pet loss together. I search the house for pieces of Poupon for two weeks – nail clippings, whiskers, etc. I keep his litter box because of a footprint for two weeks. Slowly, we move some of his stuff out of the house. My assistant takes some things to hold onto because she’s wise enough to know I might want them again someday (and I did). We start the painful process of grieving.”
It’s possible to get stuck in a quagmire of sadness but Cheryl and Michael have grown through the emotional wreckage of losing their special cat. Talking through the pain is necessary but you can’t do this with just anyone. Other committed pet parents are safe. Poupon’s people can now look back and laugh at their good boy’s antics. They’ve survived this journey so well that I know their cat is proud, wherever his little spirit – with its unconditional love and commitment – lives on.
Next week: Hope: A personal guide to pet happiness.
♦ Do you know a dog who freaks out when home alone? Incessant barking, frantic escape attempts, maybe even soiling while you’re away? Join me later today, at 4 p.m. for my Facebook Live event on separation anxiety. Go to Facebook.com/drjeffnichol.
Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com Post pet questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.